Motorcycles naturally offer less protection than cars in a crash, with riders depending on helmets and body armor to reduce injuries. Because of this limited built-in safety, motorcyclists are 4 times more likely to be injured and 22 times more likely to die in a collision than people in passenger cars.

As a motorcycle rider, you can modify your bike for added safety by installing features like crash bars. These are metal bars attached to the bike’s frame, designed to help protect your legs in an accident.

If you’re considering crash bars for your motorcycle, understanding their benefits and effectiveness can help determine if they’re worthwhile. Read on to explore this safety feature and see if it’s the right fit for your bike.

What are Crash Bars for Motorcycles?

Crash bars, also known as engine or crash guards, consist of metal tubes typically made from aluminum or steel. These tubes are attached to a motorcycle’s frame and form a protective loop around the rider’s legs, similar to a cage or frame.

When installed on the sides of a motorcycle, crash bars widen the bike by a few inches. This creates a protective frame that shields the rider’s legs and the engine from direct impact in a collision.

How Do Crash Bars Work?

Crash bars are engineered to absorb and disperse the force of impact in a crash, reducing the direct impact on both the motorcycle’s frame and the rider. They provide the following protections:

  • Direct Protection From Impacts: Crash bars on motorcycles shield the rider’s legs by creating a barrier between them and other vehicles or objects, like guardrails or the ground. If a motorcycle is hit from the side, the crash bars absorb the impact, reducing the force felt by the rider and lessening the chance of injury.
  • Preventing Pinning: Crash bars can prevent riders from being pinned under their motorcycle during a crash. When the bike tips over, the crash bars touch the ground first, providing leverage that keeps the motorcycle from lying completely flat and trapping the rider’s leg underneath.
  • Protection From Sliding: If the rider loses control of their motorcycle and starts sliding, the crash bars will grind on the asphalt. This can help slow the motorcycle and keep it stable as it continues sliding, reducing the risk of hitting an obstacle and being thrown off unexpectedly.
  • Impact Force Distribution: Crash bars help distribute the force of a side impact on a motorcycle, reducing damage to critical parts like the engine, gas tank, or wheels. This minimizes the severity of injuries and improves the chances of maintaining control of the bike during a crash.
  • Reduced Risk of Burn Injuries: Crash bars can help ensure your legs don’t remain trapped under hot components, such as the engine or the exhaust. They can also help limit engine and gas tank damage, reducing the risk of fuel or oil leaks that could start a fire and cause burns after a crash.

What Research Says About Crash Bars

Installing crash bars on your motorcycle can help reduce injury risks, particularly to the lower extremities. A 2024 study showed that 59.5% of injured riders suffered damage to areas like the pelvis, legs, and feet in their crashes. This was higher than injuries to the upper body (41.7%) and head (38.6%), highlighting that protective measures to the lower extremities are crucial for rider safety.

In one of the only studies on crash bars in the U.S., data showed that crash bars offer protection in side-impact scenarios. Out of 150 motorcyclists injured by side impacts, 8 of the 25 with crash bars (32%) escaped leg injuries, compared to only 17 out of 125 (14%) without them.

Other research has shown mixed results on the effectiveness of crash bars. In one study, only 15.7% of motorcycles had crash bars, but 20.4% of the riders who suffered severe leg injuries rode bikes with crash bars.

However, data in this report also showed that motorcyclists with crash bars had fewer ankle and foot injuries and less severe leg injuries in single-vehicle accidents but more in multi-vehicle accidents.

Are Crash Bars Worth It?

So, are crash bars worth it? Ultimately, they offer slightly more protection for your lower extremities and motorcycle components, but aren’t a foolproof way to prevent injury in a crash. Consider the following pros and cons when deciding on this safety feature:

Protects you and the bike in a side-impact collision.Reduces minor leg injuries.Protects against scrapes and bruises in falls.Potentially lowers repair costs after accidents.Improves motorcycle stability at low speeds.May prevent direct leg contact with the pavement.Inconsistent effectiveness across different accident scenarios.Might not reduce severe injury rates.Adds weight to the motorcycle, affecting handling.May not protect against high-impact crashes.Can be costly to install and maintain.


Protect Your Rights as an Injured Rider with Dudley DeBosier

No matter what protections you have on your motorcycle, another driver’s careless or reckless actions can cause you serious injury. If you’re involved in a crash, speak with our experienced Louisiana motorcycle crash lawyers at Dudley DeBosier.

We represent injured motorcycle accident riders and can help you fight unfair biases from insurers to get the financial support you need after a collision. Contact us today for a free consultation.


Disclaimer: This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.

Related Posts

You Pay Us Nothing Unless We Win.

Schedule a consultation and we will review your case for FREE.